Florida officials investigating deputy allegedly seen in video taking student to the ground

Published in 28 January, 2021

(CNN)A Florida school resource officer is on paid administrative leave after a video surfaced of him taking a high school student to the ground.

The incident with a school resource officer took place Tuesday at Liberty High School in Kissimmee, Florida, according to the Osceola School District. A brief video posted Tuesday, which has been widely circulated online, shows what appears to be an Osceola County Sheriff’s school resource officer in a confrontation with a student at the school.
School Resource Officers are not school district employees, according to the district, but rather they are sworn sheriff deputies employed with their law enforcement agency. The Sheriff’s Office has removed the resource officer who was involved in the incident from the school until the outcome of their investigation, District Public Information Officer Dana Schafer said.
    In the video, the deputy is seen taking a student to the ground and placing handcuffs on her. Another deputy is seen in the video as the incident unfolds. During a press conference on Wednesday, Osceola County Sheriff Marco Lopez said there are other videos apart from the partial one “floating around,” saying “that’s why I’m not going to express an opinion on what may or may not have happened.”
    While it’s not clear from the short video what led up to the incident, Lopez said the disruption occurred at a school function where the student was not complying with lawful commands and “went after” another student. Lopez said the situation escalated from there.
    “From my understanding, the juvenile was fine,” Lopez said, adding that the student was medically attended to at the scene and released to her mother, who picked her up. According to the sheriff, the deputy is also “fine,” though he sustained some injuries when he hit the ground.
    Lopez said his office is capable of handling the investigation, but he turned it over to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) so no one can accuse him of influence over the case.
    “Certain situations and certain circumstances call for complete, clear transparency and utmost trust with our citizens,” Lopez said.
    FDLE confirmed it is investigating the use of force at Liberty High School.
    “Each case is unique including this case. In this case and all others, our role is to determine the facts of what happened and a state attorney or prosecutor determines if there are law violations,” a statement from the Department said.
    The deputy, whom Sheriff Lopez identified as Ethan Fournier, has been with the Sheriff’s Office for ten years and doesn’t have a history of misconduct, other than minor damage to property. The sheriff said Fournier has been placed on paid administrative leave, pending the outcome of the investigation.
      CNN has attempted to reach Fournier and the Florida Police Benevolent Association for comment.
      “The district is fully cooperating with the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office’s active investigation into the situation,” Schafer, the public information officer, said in a statement.

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